40 Years of the Future: Discover our 40 year anniversary programme!

Posted on 12 December 2023

We are delighted to be able to share Castlefield Gallery’s first programme release for its 40 year anniversary, launching 20 March 2024, 40 years to the day from when the gallery first opened its doors to the public in 1984!

40 Years of the Future: Painting

Exhibition: Sun 24 March – Sun 23 June 2024
Preview: 20 March 2024
Slow Saturday preview: 23 March 2024

40 Years of the Future: Painting welcomes back Sarah Feinmann, Tricia Gillman, John Hoyland, and Gary Wragg. Each exhibited as part of Castlefield Gallery’s 1984 inaugural programme. Large abstract paintings shown at the time, including Harvest 6.3.81 (1981) the centre-piece for Hoyland’s solo exhibition ‘Recent Paintings’, will return to Castlefield Gallery in March 2024. These works will be shown alongside later paintings by the same artists and the work of four ‘up-and-coming’ painters in the North West – Jamie Kirk, Robin Megannity, Azraa Motala and Katie Tomlinson. An unashamed celebration of painting, the exhibition will house powerful examples of abstract and figurative work. Some works are sombre and intense whilst others exuberant and bombastic. 

Whether you are a painting enthusiast or simply curious about what painting can do, 40 Years of the Future: Painting will deliver a rich dialogue around the past, present and future of the medium, individual expression, the power of imagery and the politics of representation.

40 Years of the Future: Where Should We Be Now?

Jeffrey Knopf, Theo Simpson, Hope Strickland 

Exhibition: Sun 7 July –  Sun 6 October 2024
Preview: Thurs 4 July 2024
Slow Saturday Preview: 6 July 2024

Artists Jeffrey Knopf, Theo Simpson and Hope Strickland – a sculptor, a photographer and artist-filmmaker, are deeply committed to their disciplines, whilst pushing their boundaries. All actively work around the edges of each of their respective mediums. In both the content of their works and materials used they explore our deep and complex relationships with the past, present and future. They challenge dominant cultural narratives and the idea that history is singular. Their works are subtle and poetic but also expansive, mixing the personal and the political. 

The exhibition will present existing pieces alongside commissioned works developed in partnership with the University of Salford Art Collection, some of which will enter the university’s collection for the benefit of future generations. This builds on Castlefield Gallery’s decade of co-commissioning and artist development collaborations with the University of Salford Art Collection. 40 Years of the Future: Where Should We Be Now? will bring together sculptural works 3D-printed from manipulated scans of ancient artefacts, photographic works and materials that relate to the history of the British economy and landscape, alongside film that skillfully and elegantly weaves together archival footage and historic documentation.

As Castlefield Gallery marks 40 years, the exhibition will inform how we might imagine our future, and doing so with the recognition that history isn’t the same for everyone; that amongst the artists we work with and the people that visit us, the past is felt and experienced differently.

40 Years of the Future: Jo McGonigal x Frank Bowling  

Exhibition: Sun 20 October 2024 – Sun 2 February 2025
Preview: Thurs 17 October 2024
Slow Saturday Preview: 19 October 2024

This exhibition will bring together two painters whose works have drawn inspiration from sculpture. Jo McGonigal makes what she refers to as spatial paintings. They leave the constraints of the canvas support behind to interact directly with the architecture in which her works are placed. For McGonigal encountering painting should activate the body as much as it does the eye. Frank Bowling has been exploring the possibilities of paint for over six decades. Renowned for his engagement with abstraction, his technically pioneering works mix new materials and methodologies to create bold, large-scale paintings. They demonstrate his grasp of structure and geometry, and some works feature heavily built-up layered surfaces of paint and various materials, forming artworks that could be characterised as sculptural paintings.

In his book Frank Bowling: Sculpture (2022) curator Sam Cornish delves into the sculptural aspects of Bowling’s art. He shares a story of how the artist once received an invitation from Castlefield Gallery to exhibit his paintings alongside the work of a contemporary sculptor: in reply, Bowling said that he would create the sculptures himself. This led to a solo exhibition of Bowling’s paintings, works on paper and sculpture at the gallery in 1988. To celebrate its 40 year anniversary, Castlefield Gallery is delighted to present works from the original exhibition, alongside earlier and more recent paintings by Bowling and new works by McGonigal. Bringing their work together is a unique opportunity to challenge our understanding of the relationship between painting and sculpture, as they explore the concepts of physical space and pictorial depth, surface and substance, seeing how one practice can enrich and influence the other.

40 Years of the Future: Castlefield Gallery Associates

Exhibition: Sun 16 February – Sun 30 March 2025
Preview: Thurs 13 February 2025
Slow Saturday Preview: Sat 15 February 2025

The gallery will close the 40 year exhibition programme with an extraordinary Castlefield Gallery Associates exhibition. Castlefield Gallery Associates is an artist development programme designed to provide skills, practice and career development support for artists in Greater Manchester, the region and beyond. The programme acts as a hub, facilitating critical exchange and engagement between artists and creatives. The exhibition will be an opportunity for Castlefield Gallery Associates to submit proposals for an exhibition that if selected will form part of the gallery’s 40 year programme. Associates will be able to apply to exhibit as a solo artist, a member of a group/collective, or to curate an exhibition project. We will be looking for timely and ambitious proposals which enable those involved to significantly develop their practice and profile. More will follow on this later in 2024, including a new package of funded Associates’ awards and the exhibition’s guest selector. 


Castlefield Gallery marks 40 years as Manchester Art Gallery celebrates 200 years. Reflecting on the galleries’ origins, both initiated by artists, and timed to coincide with 40 Years of the Future: Painting, we will deliver a joint public programme exploring the arts ecology of the city, unpacking the critical role and value of artists to a city like Manchester ‘then and now’. This will be as Castlefield Gallery and Manchester School of Art’s (Manchester Metropolitan University) AHRC NWCDTP Collaborative Doctoral researcher will complete their process of exploring the Castlefield Gallery archive, considering its history in the context of the wider city and city region’s cultural ecology, and via which many deep connections between Castlefield Gallery and Manchester Art Gallery have been brought into focus. We are pleased to also be working with Manchester Art Gallery and the Whitworth in the year, and with Portraits of Recovery, looking ahead to their Recoversit Month in 2024 and 2025.

Salford Scholars, an annual 12 month graduate scholarship programme, will continue with the University of Salford Art Collection, Hot Bed Press, Islington Mill and Paradise Works. 2024 will mark a decade of collaborative action with partners in Salford on support for new artists as they transition out of education. ENERGY HOUSE 2.0 residencies with artists Mishka Henner and Emily Speed, delivered in conjunction with the University of Salford and Open Eye Gallery will progress, including towards presentations of new work in 2024 and 2025. Castlefield Gallery will also be supporting Hybrid Futures at Salford Museum and Art Gallery – the culmination of a 2-year collaborative pilot between the gallery, Grundy Art Gallery (Blackpool), Touchstones (Rochdale), University of Salford Art Collection and Shezad Dawood Studio (London), with artist development and environmental sustainability at its heart.

Building on the long-established Castlefield Gallery collaboration with Waterside and Creative Industries Trafford, 2024 will be the launch year for our new invigorated partnership programme, one that will see creative opportunities for artists rolled out across Trafford. Meanwhile, Culture Warrington’s vision to develop the Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival has been made possible for 2024 thanks to a substantial investment from Arts Council England’s Place Partnership Fund. Through this place-based initiative, Castlefield Gallery is delighted it will be working with Culture Warrington to strengthen their artist development programmes, ensuring that local creatives have an even more diverse range of opportunities available to them. HOME’s Manchester Open returns in 2024, for which the gallery is proud to partner on the Manchester Open Awards. Meanwhile year round activities will continue with partners Venture Arts, and in preparation towards our joint exhibition in 2025.

Castlefield Gallery Associates will continue to provide resources, opportunities and community for over 300 artists, with Castlefield Gallery New Art Spaces (temporarily vacant properties repurposed for artist use across the North West) building on its activity in Chester, including work on the inaugural 2023 Chester Contemporary, as well as in Warrington and Greater Manchester. 

Whatever the next 40 years holds, Castlefield Gallery will continue with an unwavering commitment to nurturing artistic practice across all career stages. We will continue with our commitment to new art, and forging connections between contemporary practice in the North West with that made nationally and internationally.

Castlefield Gallery principal funders

Programme partners

Corporate supporters

Trusts and foundations


Castlefield Gallery Guardians and Patrons

With special thanks to Castlefield Gallery Commissioning Patrons Prof. Chris Klingenberg and Bridget and Richard Schilizzi.

A special thank you to Sam Cornish, Beverley Heath-Hoyland, Frank Bowling and Lee Taylor.